Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Marital Quality Trajectory among Iranian Married Individuals: A Collectivist Perspective

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Marital Quality Trajectory among Iranian Married Individuals: A Collectivist Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

Marital satisfaction is a major determinant in overall happiness of the individual and an unhappy marriage could profoundly affect one's physical and mental well-being (1-4). For this reason, years of research have been dedicated to understanding marital satisfaction and its contributing factors. In particular, numerous studies in the past decades have focused on the trajectory of marital quality over time using cross-sectional, and cohorts of married couples. Although there is a consensus that marital satisfaction assumes a curvilinear pattern across life course, its exact shape has been a matter of extensive debate. Early studies have provided evidence in favor of a U-shaped curve; that is, marriage quality declines in the first half of marriage and then takes an upturn during the second half (5-7). Subsequent studies, however, have cast doubt on the existence of a U-shaped curve and have suggested that marriage quality consistently declines over the life course, albeit the pace of decline varies between early and late periods (8-10).

The majority of studies to date have largely focused on middle class families of developed countries and studies investigating the trajectory of marital quality in the context of less developed countries with a collectivist background are lacking. Racial and cultural background significantly influences marital satisfaction (11-13).

The collectivist culture of Iran is heavily influenced by its religious background surpassingly woven with its ancient tribal traditions. Despite globalization trends observed in the past few decades in the country, notable differences in family structure with developed societies are yet identifiable and studying marriage quality in such context would significantly add to our understanding of dynamics of marriage as well as discernible cultural differences.

Given the knowledge gap in this regard, the present study was conducted to delineate the trajectory of marital satisfaction in a nationally representative sample of Iranian individuals in intact first marriages.

Materials and Methods

Participants

In the present study, a cluster-sampling scheme was designed to randomly select couples in households across seven provinces of Iran. These seven provinces were Tehran, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Esfahan, Mazandaran, Ardebil, and Kurdistan and were chosen to be representative of the country's diverse socioeconomic profile. Between February and May 2011, a total of eight clusters of 50 households each representing one province (with the exception of Tehran for which two clusters were allocated) were sampled. Sampling was limited to the urban areas of each province and rural areas were not included. In the first step of sampling, the range of postal codes in the urban area of each province was collected from the postal service and was fed into randomization software. Based on randomly generated codes for each cluster, the corresponding household was visited the next day and two sealed packages (one for the husband and one for the wife) were delivered. Neighboring households in the area of the randomly chosen household were then approached and the research crew delivered similar packages to each couple. Delivering packages was continued until the goal of 50 households was met. Households were excluded if the primary resident of the house was not married, was under 18 years of age, had been divorced, or his/her spouse was not living in the same place.

The sealed packages contained a brief introduction describing the purpose and nature of the study along with a user-friendly guideline on how to complete each questionnaire. A consent form was also included in each set and the respondent was asked to sign the form after reading the introduction section. The guideline clearly asked the respondents to complete the forms at the comfort of their homes, but independently of each other. At the time of delivery, a next visit at the time convenient for the couple was scheduled and the research crew picked up the completed forms. …

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